Fight cancer by improving diet

Take control

Here’s some “groundbreaking” news just in from the American Cancer Society: The United States still needs lots of cancer prevention. That’s the conclusion of the 2012 edition of their Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Facts and Figures report.

Duh! Any third grader could have told us that one.

However, they did make one important change to this year’s report that is worth mentioning. In addition to the usual call for reducing tobacco use, expanding the use of established screening tests, “improving diet” (not that they have any clue what that really means), and increasing physical activity, they also included a new recommendation.

Curbing obesity.

Finally! The ACS is starting to realize that obesity kills.

One other fact in this report I found startling: Although overall rates decreased modestly, 1 in 5 adults still smoke cigarettes. Do these people live under rocks? I know it’s an incredibly difficult habit to break, but every puff you take decreases your life expectancy.

Of course, thanks to good old American ingenuity, as soon as one terrible risk factor started to decline, another rose to take its place–with a whopping 37.5 % of Americans being obese.

Trust me when I say I know how hard can be to admit you’ve got a problem–and to commit to changing. I was an obese adolescent when it wasn’t the norm. But I learned how to take control of my weight and my health by eating the right foods–always. Yes, I admit I slip here and there for special occasions. But I’ve built my life around eating healthy. Because I’ve learned that if you want to be successful at it, it needs to me a lifelong lifestyle adjustment.

I actually had a patient come in to see me yesterday who’s a perfect example of this. We’ve been working together for a while, but yesterday she pulled a picture out of her purse and handed it to me. “I want to show you what I looked like 10 years ago,” she said. I was dumbfounded. In the photo, she was over 400 pounds. She’d actually started following my Hamptons Diet about three years before she came to see me. So when we first met, she was 250 pounds. It turns out she came in when she realized she had diabetes. Yet she never admitted to me until yesterday how obese she was. She’s now down to 180–and has perfectly controlled blood sugar (without medication). She still wants to lose more weight, but the point of the story is that I asked her how she’d reached that point in the photo. Her reply? “Life. It got out of control.” And when she was ready to take control, she achieved amazing results.

Anyway, I hadn’t intended bring her up in this context, but it’s such a simple lesson. One well worth sharing. Be ready, take control, and allow healthy things to happen to you. And stick to it. You won’t just get thinner, but you’ll dramatically cut your risk of cancer–and every other disease–too.